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The Social team attended UKREiiF recently. Luke Cross’s experience was rich with insights, reflecting on significant themes of partnerships, sustainability, and social impact. Here are some key highlights: 

Focus on partnerships 

An excellent session on joint ventures and partnerships featured Setareh Neshati from Westminster City Council. She emphasised what councils need from delivery partners, particularly highlighting the impact of housing associations and council joint ventures. Catherine Raynsford contributed valuable insights on forming and proving the impact of new partnerships, making it a standout panel discussion. 

Social impact 

A hyper-local approach to social impact is essential. While localised efforts are crucial, there is also merit in quantitative and standardised approaches. These approaches can enhance political lobbying efforts and prevent superficial social impact reports that only highlight positives while ignoring negatives.

ESG: A lever for change 

Despite criticisms, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) is still considered a powerful tool by global asset managers. While the “ESG is dead” argument has some support, it remains a significant focus in the industry. 

Nuanced ESG and sustainability reporting 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for ESG and sustainability reporting. Each market and asset class requires tailored reporting to capture specific nuances. This message is particularly relevant for organisations like Sustainability for Housing.

Balancing E and S in ESG 

A critical discussion centred on whether environmental (E) and social (S) factors in ESG are sometimes in conflict. Generally, investors believe they are not, but in sectors like social housing, some social factors can hinder environmental progress. Investing in environmental factors often brings social benefits, but practical challenges exist. 

Tension between credit analysis and social impact 

David Willock from Lloyds Bank highlighted the tension between credit analysis and social impact. Often, credit analysts might reject investments despite clear social benefits. The increased focus on social impact hasn’t yet matched the buy-in for environmental factors, partly due to the latter being regulated. There is a growing call for more regulation around social impact, similar to the Stewardship Code

Networking and Professional Insights 

Catching up with professionals across housing, real estate, and finance provided valuable perspectives on progress, politics, and policy. Discussions ranged from storytelling challenges to the role of major firms in mainstreaming sustainability audits. 

In summary, UKREiiF showcased the importance of partnerships, the ongoing relevance of ESG, and the need for nuanced approaches to social impact and sustainability reporting. The insights gained highlight the industry’s commitment to these critical areas while acknowledging the challenges and opportunities ahead. 

Telling your ESG story can be complex, but Social can help you simplify it with a full set of services, including workshops, stakeholder engagement, and targeted content. We provide market insights and produce compelling reports that align with relevant frameworks. Whether you’re an investor, company, or not-for-profit, we’ll help you inform, engage, and inspire your audience, clearly defining and delivering your mission and message.

You can find out more about our services here: Sustainability, ESG & Impact Communications – Social